Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  June 16, 2022
By Eric P. Robinson,
USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

South Carolina needs a good SLAPP law

In late May, the Judiciary Committee of the North Carolina State Assembly approved a legislative bill, which would allow for early dismissal of lawsuits making libel or other claims that are meant to shut down discussion of important public issues. The bill is now due to be considered by the Assembly as a whole.
If North Carolina adopts the bill into law, it will become the 34th state to pass a so-called “Anti-SLAPP” statute. (The District of Columbia also has such a law; West Virginia has anti-SLAPP provisions via a court decision). These laws are called “anti-SLAPP” statutes because they prevent “SLAPPs,” an acronym for “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”  These are lawsuits filed to intimidate and stop defendants from discussing matters of public interest, rather then seeking compensation for actual harm.
One such case was filed against a South Carolina defendant in the 1980s. Animal rights activist Shirley McGreal, head of the International Primate Protection League in Summerville, S.C., was sued for $4 million over a letter she wrote to the academic Journal of Medical Primatology protesting a drug company’s plans to use chimpanzees in hepatitis research. Her insurer settled the case against her—over her objection—for $100,000. Later, New York State’s highest court dismissed the case against the remaining defendant, the journal’s editor, on the grounds that the statements were protected by the First Amendment. Read more

FOI Fund helps SCPA member newspapers fight open government battles

If you run into an FOI violation and are planning to file a lawsuit, remember that the William C. Rogers Freedom of Information Fund is here to help.
SCPA's FOI Fund serves member newspapers by funding up to half of the legal expenses in cases that have a statewide FOI importance.
Over the years, the fund has helped dozens of S.C. newspapers fight FOI battles from the local level all the way to the S.C. Supreme Court.
It is also known as the “Bill Rogers Chicken Gravy Fund,” started several years ago after an Annual Meeting in Charleston. The hotel served what was perceived by members as chicken gravy over fish. There were many complaints and the hotel refunded money for the dinner. Rogers, SCPA Attorney Jay Bender and longtime FOI Chair John Shurr suggested the money go into a fund to help papers fight FOI battles. The SCPA Board agreed and the “chicken gravy” fund was created.
Applications are accepted from SCPA member newspapers wishing to pursue litigation against public bodies or public officials who have violated the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. If you’d like more details or would like to request assistance from the William C. Rogers Freedom of Information Fund, please contact SCPA
If you'd like to contribute to the fund, please donate online or mail a check to SCPA at 106 Outlet Pointe Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210.

"Big bacteria" by Robert Ariail

If you can't get enough of award-winning Camden cartoonist Robert Ariail, enjoy his new strip featured every week in the Charleston City Paper, which has granted us ongoing permission to republish it. Called "Lowcountry," the weekly feature, which is available for syndication in South Carolina newspapers, focuses on politics, human nature, the environment and public policy. More: Contact publisher Andy Brack.

People & Papers


Ortiz named publisher of Moultrie News

The role of a local newspaper is to be a reflection of the community it serves. That’s how Moultrie News’ incoming publisher Lisa Ortiz describes the paper.
“It’s about being the voice of what’s happening in the community,” Ortiz said. In the simplest terms, that looks like educating and entertaining readers. However, managing a paper that encapsulates the heartbeat of a community requires a desire to be a part of the community. It’s one of the few roles that Ortiz has not held in the newspaper industry, yet it’s one she’s excited about.
“The community aspect is the part that I’m looking forward to,” Ortiz said. She’s spent the last several weeks introducing herself to the faces behind East Cooper’s businesses and organizations, and looks forward to continue meeting more members of the community.
Throughout Ortiz’s 21-year career in the newspaper industry, she has handled the production of a newspaper from A to Z. From working with the printing of the paper to selling the ads, Ortiz has well-rounded experience of how a newspaper operates. She spent the last several years with the Post and Courier as the commercial print and prepress manager.
By Kenna Coe, Moultrie News | Read more

Segal named senior editor of The Sun News

Chris Segal has been named Senior Editor of The Sun News.
He comes to Myrtle Beach from New Bern, N.C., where he was editor of The Sun Journal and The (Kinston, N.C.) Free Press.
He previously served as managing editor of the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News and print news editor for Halifax Media Group in North Carolina. He’s also worked as a reporter for the News Herald in Panama City, FL, an internet content producer for WPEC in West Palm Beach, FL, and digital content producer for the Ventura (Calif.) County Star. 
Segal is a graduate of Pepperdine University and received an MBA from the University of Mount Olive.

Smith named managing editor of Greenville Journal

Evan Peter Smith has been promoted to managing editor of Greenville Journal and Upstate Business Journal.
He joined Community Journals as a staff writer in 2019.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Smith received a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Ohio University. He worked as a staff reporter for the Athens News in Athens County, Ohio, and went on to work for USA Today covering three counties in southeast Ohio. In 2015, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he spent three years covering Capitol Hill.
He published his first book, “Here by the Owl,” in 2021.

McCreless named service journalism editor at The State

Patrick McCreless has been named Service Journalism Editor for The State, where he and a team of reporters write about trending news of the day and topics that help readers in their daily lives and better informs them about their communities.
McCreless attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama and grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL.
He most recently served as News Editor of The Panama City (FL) News Herald.  He also worked at The Anniston (AL) Star and The Cullman (AL) Times.

The Sumter Item's Green named one of E&P's 'Shooting Stars' 

Micah Green of The Sumter Item was named one of Editor & Publisher's "Shooting Stars" for a love for his art, an enviable work ethic and a devotion to visual journalism.
Here's his advice to young professionals who aspire to become photojournalists:
"Just keep taking pictures. Tell the stories around you and tell them with respect and depth. I only took one photojournalism class in school and have always felt a little inadequate when looking at some of my peers’ formal education from places like RIT, Mizzou and Ohio University. But the longer I work in this field, the more I realize that it’s something of an advantage not to be bogged down in a learned style or way of photographing. The classroom can only take you so far; you’ve got to get out and do the work."
By Robin Blinder and Gretchen A. Peck, Editor & Publisher | Read more

Post and Courier wins 5 first-place awards in national feature writing contest

The Post and Courier earned eight awards, including five first-place finishes, in a national features journalism contest with stories about the search for an enslaved Muslim scholar’s true history, the connections between Greenland and Charleston brought on by climate change, and Charleston’s renowned food scene. It was the second-best showing for a newspaper with a circulation under 90,000.
The Society for Features Journalism honors the nation’s best storytelling and design work. The Post and Courier had the second-highest total of awards in its division, finishing just behind The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.
From The Post and Courier | Read more
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Industry Briefs

Post and Courier content and community-focused business model allows publication to grow and expand

Focusing on its content and the communities it serves is the secret behind the success of The Post and Courier newspaper, said Publisher P.J. Browning.
“Content is king,” said Browning, head of the publication based in Charleston, South Carolina.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the death knell for many newspapers across the country, including 10 in South Carolina. The Post and Courier, a privately owned company, expanded into other parts of the state, including Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Columbia.
Browning said the family-owned business model allows the newspaper to operate at a lower profit margin. The company gives the newspaper more leeway to hire journalists to produce high-quality content and grow its digital audience instead of focusing solely on quarterly returns.
“We’re on the same runway as all the other newspapers. I just think ours is a little bit extended,” Browning said.
This allows the newspaper to pursue projects that are imperative to their communities. For example, the “Uncovered” project examines corruption creeping into news deserts where community leaders were no longer under the watchful eye of dogged journalists. The newspaper was also named a 2021 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for “Rising Waters,” a series on climate-driven flooding.
By Alyssa Choiniere, Editor & Publisher | Read more


By Dean Ridings, CEO, America's Newspapers

The time to support local news is now

Editor's Note: There could be an opportunity for key components of the LJSA to be included in an upcoming reconciliation bill. A show of support from newspapers across the country would be helpful to further demonstrate the importance of newspapers to their communities and the reasons why support is needed now. Feel free to publish this editorial, or create your own, encouraging Congress to support the LJSA.
Congress has an opportunity to pass legislation that benefits all local citizens, businesses and even protects our democracy. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, LJSA for short, should be included as part of any upcoming reconciliation bill that Congress is considering. The LJSA is a well-thought-out bill that would provide needed support to local news organizations, including local newspapers, to ensure their viability as they continue to make progress toward a digital future.
Many members of Congress have seen what happens when a newspaper closes in their district, and they see the impact it has on the community. That is why many of our leaders, including Senators Cantwell, Schumer, Manchin, Wyden and others have stepped up in support of the LJSA. And while others in Congress may not have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill yet, many recognize the importance and the need to maintain strong local news organizations in their communities.
To understand what the LJSA is, it is important to understand what it is not. This is a temporary measure to help newspapers at this critical time, and it sunsets after five years. The LJSA won’t help national news organizations, but it will support local news organizations and help them invest in their newsrooms in order to continue to cover the issues that impact local cities and towns. The result is a bill that provides a bridge for local newspapers as they continue to evolve their business models. Read more

Upcoming Events

As a service to its member newspapers, SCPA lists employment opportunities on our site upon request. There is no charge for this service to SCPA member newspapers. Please email openings to Kassidy Wright.
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